Muslims constitute almost ten percent of the Russian population today. The Muslim population lives in different regions of Russia, speaking different languages and representing diversified socio-political dynamics. For instance, Tatarstan, located in the middle of the Russian Federation, has just over fifty percent Turkic-Muslim population; whereas the Chechen Republic located in the southernmost flank of Russia has over ninety percent Chechen-Muslim population. In addition, Russia’s metropoles are home to millions of Muslims who have migrated from the Muslim regions of Russia and from the post-Soviet countries. Russia also shares borders with multiple Muslim majority countries and often engages in dialogue with several Muslim communities in different regions.
Islam is not a novel phenomenon for Russia. The Russian history is deeply intertwined with the histories of Muslim communities that have lived inside and around the territories of today’s Russia. The Russians have had periods of conflict, competition, subjugation and cooperation with Muslims located inside and outside of Russia. The deep roots of Islam in Russia make the image of Islam and Muslims in Russia both complex and specific. I argue that the image of Islam in Russia impacts the way the nation deals with Muslim communities. Russia produces diversified narratives of Islam and these narratives have the potential to be used to politicize or securitize at least a portion of Muslims. This work examines three primary narratives on Islam that stem from diversified roots.